Pahang threw in everything they had despite taking the field with a depleted side against Hong Kong’s South China, but had to face the disappointment of losing by a solitary goal at the Darul Makmur Stadium tonight.
Pahang started their AFC Group G match against table toppers after two match – Hong Kong’s South China – without their two key foreign players upfront, Dickson Nwkaeme and Matias Conti, who were not even in the reserves bench as they were nursing injuries.
They also had to miss skipper Razman Roslan serving his second match suspension, while Azamuddin Akil was also nursing injury.
This left R. Gopinathan, R. Surendran, Mohd Rizua Shafiqi and Azizdan Sarudin all operating from midfield to lead the attack.
It was a cautious approach by both teams from the first whistle, but as the match progressed it was Pahang who looked the aggressors and looked dangerous.
But in a counterattack which looked harmless as the defenders were trying to contain the attack, South China Chan Siu Ki’s sudden shot from the top of the box caught Pahang goalkeeper Khairulazhan Khalid by surprise to concede in the 13th minute.
Pahang came back strongly to find the equaliser and looked threatening on numerous occasions and had a golden opportunity in the 37th minute when Gopinathan weaved his magic along the left flank and send a neat cross for Surendran to send home but fumbled it.
Pahang came close to finding the equaliser again in 51st minute when Muhamad Nor Azam’s well curled ball from outs 30 metres out just missed sailing into goal by centimetres as South China goalkeeper Mora Medrano was well beaten.
Surendran was substituted in the 63rd minute to see Mohd Faizal Abdul Rani to come in to give a fresh bite upfront as South China were pressed deep into their half to defend.
But for all the domination, Pahang could not find the net and coach Zainal Abidin Hassan brought in Mohd Hazri Rozali for Hafiz Kamal in the 79th minute with the hope that their fortune will change.
With the minutes ticking away Zainal made his final substitution when he sent in Mohd Faisal Mohd Rosli for a tiring Gopinathan with four minutes on the clock.
Defenders Damion and Zesh even moved upfront in the dying minutes to try salvage the game, but it was not to be. All came to nought despite making an all-out effort to find the elusive equaliser.
It was Pahang’s first loss after having won against Myanmar’s Yadanardon 2-1 away and played to a scoreless draw against Philippines’ Global FC at home.
Team Manager: Mohd Fahrizal Hasan
Coach: Zainal Abidin Hassan
23 Mohd Khairulazha Mohd Khalid (GK)
3 Mohd Saiful Nizam Miswan
4 Damion Delano Stewart (captain)
6 Zeshan Rehman
7 R. Surendran
8. Azidan Sarudin
20 Mohd Shahrizan Mohd Salleh
21 Mohd Hafiz Kamal
24 R. Gopinathan
27 Muhamad Nor Azam Abdul Azih
25 Mohd Rizua Shafiqi Kamarulzaman
23 Mohd Nasril Nourdin (GK)
2 Jalalludin Abu Jaafar
14 Mohd Faisal Mohd Rosli
16 Mohd Hazri Rozali
17 Mohd Zaiza Zainal Abidin
18 Muhammad Syawal Norsham
29 Mohd Faizal Abdul Rani
SOUTH CHINA (HONG KONG)
Team Manager: Goldbert Chi Chiu
Team Coach: Roberto Mario Carlos Gomez
12 Mora Medrano (GK)
2 Jack Sealy
5 Chak Ting Fung
7 Chan Siu Ki
8 Mahama Awal
15 Chan Wai Ho (captain)
16 Philip Chan Siu Kwan
17 Leung Chun Pong
22 Malisic Bojan
24 Lo Kong Wai
38 Daniel James McBreen
39 Leung Hing Kit (GK)
9 Lee Wai Lim
10 Lam Hok Hei
20 Lau Cheuk Hin
23 Che Runqiu
31 Michael Cheng Lai Hin
99 Li Nhai Hon
Referee: Fu Ming (China PR)
Assistant Referee 1: Mu Yuxin (China PR)
Assistant Referee 2: Xu Peng (China PR)
Fourth Official: Wang Zhe (China PR)
Match Commissioner: Davlatmand Islomov(Tajikistan)
Referee Assessor: Farkhad Abdullaev (Uzbekistan)